Eternity Forgotten?

Over at the 9Marks Blog, Matt Schmucker has so kindly and thoughtfully blogged about the loss of “the idea of eternity and the believer’s ultimate end.” The whole post is worth reading, but here are his 6 reasons why the idea of eternity may be forgotten in our churches:

1. We’re distracted by baubles. We don’t long for and speak of eternity because in our hyper-connected, wealth-soaked, desires-driven world we remain suspended in a state of EXTREME DISTRACTION –by baubles—showy ornaments of little value. Music, drink, golf, houses, cars, IPODS, DVDs ESPN, HBO or MTV. These things are not necessarily bad. But too often mere baubles. Meaningless. They are nothing in light of eternity. But, boy, are they powerful.

2. We’re too content. Living in America is to be comfortable. I know there are exceptions, but even the poor in America (according to recent studies) live better than most of all of human history. We’re content. Why long for something else when things are fine — here? Our wealth buys us out of hard labor. Our healthcare buys us out of extreme pain. We are content/comfortable with this world, not eager for the next. And so we don’t speak of eternal matters.

3. We may not be Christians. We don’t speak of eternity because we don’t know the eternal God. Jesus said, “Out of the mouth comes that which fills the heart (Matthew 12:34). It’s a nice little test the Lord of the Universe came up with. You want to know what’s on your heart? Check what comes out of your mouth. Sports? Work? Relationships? Money? Politics? Does anything eternal ever make it out? I have a special concern here for you who are or have grown up in a Christian home. You learn early how to talk the talk. You know the Christian buzz words and adopt the Christian culture, but is what you say you believe real to your own soul?

  • You talk about mysteries without standing in awe.
  • You talk about zeal without any passion.
  • You speak of sin in the absence of sorrow.
  • You even speak of heaven without any eagerness.

Be on your guard that you are not playing the role of the Pharisee. We may not be Christian and so we don’t speak about eternity.

4. We’re Christian, but our holy desires may be too slight. About John Owen (leading Puritan preacher) it was said, “holiness…shined in his whole course [his whole life], and was diffused through his whole conversation.” Owen in his own words: “If the word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” Owen desired all things holy and it came out. Our holy desires may be too slight. And so we don’t speak.

5. We don’t understand our role as Christians. We don’t “get saved” then do what we want and see God sometime way off in the future. When you come to Christ, you get a new identity and with that a new role, if you will. When John the Baptist comes on the scene, the Jewish leadership sent priests out to find out who this guy was. “Who are you?” “Are you Elijah?” “Are you the Prophet?” “What do you say about yourself?” What is John’s description of himself? I AM A VOICE. I’m not a lawyer or a nurse or a federal worker. I’m not a teacher, homemaker, student or pastor. I’m not a painter or a journalist. I AM A VOICE. That’s your role! I believe and therefore I speak (2 Cor 4:13). We don’t understand our role and so we don’t speak for our eternal God.

6. We’re too fearful. We fear the reproach of men. We fear being rejected by family. We fear the loss of friends. We fear looking different/acting different/being different. Friends, we need to be willing to have every part of this life look stupid if it means being faithful to God and preparing to stand in His presence in the next.

I found #3 particularly convicting. If we forget to think about eternity, are we really Christians? Have we truly been converted by the eternal God in our eternal souls?

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About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

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